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The Internet Changes the Rules of the Game

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The Internet changes many of the unwritten rules that businesses have been following. By connecting people and organizations electronically, and by offering new opportunities for businesses to communicate and interact with customers, partners, employees, and even with actual and potential competitors, the Internet forces us all to the rethink how we operate and manage web properties. In this article, Russell Nakano describes the rules that drive the environment that web development groups live in. The rules compel us to react, and the principles of content management tell us how to react.
This article is excerpted from Russell Nakano’s book Web Content Management: A Collaborative Approach, published by Addison Wesley.
From the author of

I learned there are troubles Of more than one kind. Some come from ahead And some come from behind.

But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going To have troubles with me.

—Dr. Seuss, "I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla

Introduction

Lisa gulps the last of her Monday morning orange juice as her pager buzzes on her kitchen counter. As the web production manager for a computer wholesale distributor, the blinking phone number on the pager display tells Lisa everything she needs to know. This is the third consecutive Monday that she receives a page from the morning shift. Same problem again, she thinks to himself, as she reaches for her briefcase and car keys.

Lisa’s production group ensures that the corporate web site functions around the clock. Thousands of resellers around the world depend on their web site for maintaining nearly all aspects of the business relationship, including obtaining product information, submitting product orders, and reporting account status.

As she accelerates down the freeway on-ramp, Lisa powers up her cell phone. A brief conversation with the web development manager confirms her suspicions. Sure enough, one of the developers, Mario, has been testing the new section of the web site. When complete, the new area on the corporate home page will allow retail partners to be able to establish promotional links to their own web sites. For the last three weekends, Mario had copied the new code to the internal development web site for testing. In the midst of moving other changes to the live production web site Sunday night, a junior member of her staff mistakenly moved Mario’s changes to production, too. Just like that, Mario’s changes are visible for anyone visiting the wholesaler’s web site to see. As resellers log in, they encounter the inadvertently released section of the site, including broken links, dummy data, and other embarrassing artifacts of Mario’s testing.

Lisa has sympathy for the developer, who is, after all, a fresh college graduate. Like the rest of the web development staff, Mario has been instructed to test all changes by copying his changes to the development web site. That procedure works fine for most changes on their web site, such as updating the corporate logo or fixing the spelling in a reseller announcement. Those kinds of changes take only a few minutes to test, review, and approve. Mario’s changes are different because the new files require extensive integration into the rest of the web site. Planning realistically, Mario has estimated it would take several weeks to complete the integration.

"Yes, the vendor partner section of the web site mistakenly went live again today!" Lisa sardonically announces at the Monday morning staff meeting, as she glances around the conference table. "One of my guys is removing it from the production servers as we speak—New York, London, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong," she mumbles with embarrassment.

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